October 12, 2010: In the Caucasus, police revealed that they had arrested three and killed two members of a bomb making operation that had set off at least ten bombs in the area in the last year. The gang as associated with the Chechen terrorist leader Doku Umarov. Chechnya has remain an intense battleground, and many Chechen rebels have moved to neighboring areas, like Ingushetia and Dagestan, where there is still some popular support, and a lot less police scrutiny. But the Russians have shifted their police efforts to these neighboring areas, seeking out the limited number of terrorists skilled at making bombs. The three provinces (Chechnya, Ingushetia, Dagestan) have remained violent for the last decade, leaving nearly 10,000 terrorists, civilians and security personnel dead. This is not unusual for the Caucasus, as the Russians occupied the area two centuries ago because of the chronic unrest and banditry (which preyed on nearby Russian territory.) Nothing much has changed in all that time and the three provinces still see up to a hundred killed and wounded each month because of terrorist activity.
The government also announced that it had made arrests in the far east, where an Islamic terrorist recruiting operation had developed in the port city of Vladivostok, and the surrounding region. The police had observed this activity for two years, and finally moved in before it could cause any serious damage.
India has agreed to buy 200-300 of the new Sukhoi jet fighter, which hasn't even got an official designation yet. It was three years ago that India agreed to partner with Russia in the development and production of a “Fifth Generation Fighter.” India agreed to pay $5 billion, about half the development cost. The Russians had frozen the design of the aircraft by then. Indian air force generals were allowed to have some input when changes have to be made during development, but the 2007 deal does not force the Russians to pay much attention to their Indian partners. In other words, it's all on the Russians to make this thing work. The recent Indian agreement to buy over 200 of the new fighter is a sign of approval with progress. That included the first flight earlier this year. The Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA won’t be in service for another 5-10 years (depending on how quickly the new technology can be obtained). The T-50 looks a lot like the F-22. The 37 ton T-50 is about the same weight as the F-22, and has a similar shape. The benefits of the Russia-Indian cooperation are many. In addition to the financial and technical help, Russia will have a guaranteed export customer, and a better chance at increasing the number produced, and bringing down the per-aircraft cost. If only 200 are produced, each aircraft will carry a $50 million share of the development cost. Manufacturing costs for each aircraft could be as much as $100 million. While Russia and India have lower labor costs, wage rates are not a major factor here. You have to build a lot of expensive, and precise, production facilities. But this challenge is reasonable for Russia, and if they succeed, Sukhoi jet fighters will remain competitive for three or more decades.
The military is seeking more military equipment in the West. The Defense Ministry is fed up with the inability of Russian defense firms to keep up with the West. For example, the Russian Navy is still using Cold War era navigation gear (no GPS) because Russian industry has been so slow in developing a Russian GPS (GLONASS) and new nav gear for ships. The army is adapting commercial (Western) wi-fi for military use, because Russian defense firms have been unable to produce anything comparable. And so on and on and on. This is a big wakeup call, and vote of no-confidence, for Russian defense firms.
October 8, 2010: The government has agreed to give Iran back $167 million in deposits for S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems that Russia has decided not to deliver. Western pressure, and offers to help boost the Russian arms industry, were decisive in the cancellation. Russia is giving the cash back to avoid a lawsuit from Iran, and to maintain the lucrative trade (over $2 billion a year) with Iran.
October 7, 2010: The Bulava SLBM (submarine launched ballistic missile) was saved from cancellation by a successful test, only the sixth success in 13 tests. Bulava isn't out of danger yet, but it now has a much better chance of survival. The government ordered the military, over a year ago, to make Bulava work, or else (there would be a lot of unemployed admirals and missile construction executives.)
October 6, 2010: The Russian president visited Algeria and signed six minor, but PR worthy, agreements. Algeria and Russia have revived their Cold War era economic and military ties, and both countries want to keep it that way. Russia wants friendly ports in the Mediterranean, and Algeria wants a powerful ally to counter French influence.
October 1, 2010: Yet another delay for the new Akula II submarine that was supposed to be turned over to India (which is leasing it) last year. Two years ago, during sea trials, there was an equipment failure that killed 20 sailors and shipyard workers. This delayed sea trails many months, and the Russians found more items that needed attention. The latest delay will see the sub delivered next March.
September 30, 2010: In the southern city of Stavropol, two bombs, planted under cars, were found and deactivated.
September 29, 2010: In Dagestan, fifteen Islamic radicals were killed in several clashes with police. Elsewhere, 17 security personnel were injured by a roadside bomb. Police say they interrupted two major terrorist attacks.
September 28, 2010: A Russian army general lost his job when anti-corruption investigators found that the officer had large amounts of income he could not explain. Meanwhile, after 18 years, Yuri Luzhkov, the mayor of Moscow lost his job. Luzhkov had publicly criticized the growing centralization of power by Vladimir Putin and his cronies. Luzhkov has been very popular, and successful in transforming Moscow into a modern city. But he was dismissed anyway, to show that resistance is futile when it comes to opposing the trend towards authoritarian rule in Russia.